Chop Saw vs Miter Saw – Differences and Similarities

Although the chop saw and the miter saw looks quite similar and are used for similar types of tasks, there is a lot of differences in between them. Both of the power tools come with certain advantages and limitations.

A chop saw is a more abrasive and less diverse type of saw. Whereas a miter saw is less harsh and a more versatile type of tool. Also, both types of saw require different levels of experience. Other important differences include the blades used, the level of risk involved, how neatly they cut through the material and many more.

To understand the dissimilarities between both is critical yet confusing as most of the people use both terms interchangeably. If you too are puzzled and looking for an answer to “what differentiates a chop saw from a miter saw?” or “how to judge which one is suitable for me?”, then this guide will probably help you out to find the possible answers.


Chop Saw vs Miter Saw – Appearance

Since miter saw is a modified form of the chop saw, it looks quite similar to it. Both of them have a circular blade mounted on a pivoted arm. Along with it, there is a strong base to provide stability to the material being cut.

One significant difference you can find in appearance is that the chop saw has a blade mounted in a constant perpendicular direction. But the blade of a miter saw can be swirled and twisted in different directions.

Another difference you can observe is that the blade of a chop saw is toothless. On the contrary, a miter saw blade contains teeth.


Chop Saw vs Miter Saw – Versatility

The chop saw is a stationary saw which is used to make straight 90° cuts. The blade of the saw is mounted such that it moves only in the upward and downward direction. So, it can be used only for sizing of hard materials to length.

Also, if you want to cut wood from a chop saw, then you might end up burning your wood piece. This is because the blade of the saw is made harsh to cut hard materials for construction or carpentry tasks.

In contrast, the miter saw is a modified and updated tool. It is designed in different forms to enhance versatility. In the market, you may come across compound miter saws, sliding compound miter saws and the latest laser miter saws. They all equip some fancy features which make operating simpler and efficient.

Besides, the miter saws can cut on various angles. The blade is mounted such that it can be tilted and locked to some particular angle, this makes the saw compatible with different types of tasks. Furthermore, you can use the miter saw to make the intricate bevel cuts as well.

Nevertheless, one limitation of the miter saw is that it is not suitable to cut bulks of metal or any other hard material. Although by mounting the right blade you may be able to cut aluminium or steel, the saw is not ideal when you have large volumes of metal to cut.


Miter Saw vs Chop Saw – Blades

The blade is what primarily differentiates the miter saw from a chop saw. The blades of a chop saw are large in size and toothless. Also, the blade of the chop saw is more abrasive which spins fast to chop apart the work piece vigorously. However, owing to its extremely high cutting capacity, operating a chop saw is not a good option for newbies.

Comparatively, the miter saw blades are smaller and contain teeth of varying ranges. Along with it, they are neither abrasive nor as sharp as a chop saw blade. This makes the miter saw a less risky power tool and it can be operated even if you are not a veteran.


Miter Saw vs Chop Saw – Finishing

Since the blades of a chop are abrasive and cut at a faster pace, there is little fishing in the ripped pieces. So, you might require some finishing jobs to remove the untidy edges after sawing.

In comparison, a miter saw blade can make fine cuts at a relatively slower pace. The toothed blade cuts finely though the material leaving behind a smooth surface. Also, the miter saw can be made to cut more smoothly by equipping fine teeth blade that ensures neat cuts with minimum splintering.


Miter Saw vs Chop Saw – Size and Power

The chop saws are larger and more powerful as compared to a miter saw. They install large motors that impart high power to the blade so it spins at a higher pace. Besides, the blade they equip is generally 14-inch large. Consequently, large motor and blade equipped increases the size and in turn, the weight of the chop saw.

The miter saws on the other hand are generally 10-12 inch large. They don’t feature high power motor and large size blades in them. Therefore, their size and operating power are more likely to be handled easily by the operator. Along with it, they are not so heavy and can be moved to a different working spot.


Miter Saw vs Chop Saw – Intricate Jobs

Chop saws are not suitable for delicate fine jobs. They are made for construction or heavy-duty tasks.

A miter saw can do what a chop saw is capable of along with offering intricacy. If you want to convert your miter saw in a chop saw, lock the blade at 90° angle and start sawing. And if you want your miter saw to make angled or bevel cuts, unlock the blade and swivel or tilt it to the desired angle.

By doing so, you can utilize your miter saw as a chop saw as well. However, your chop saw can never make angle or bevel cuts. So, if you are an artistic craftsman or the one who craves for creativity, a miter saw is undoubtedly the one you should be going for.


Miter Saw vs Chop Saw – Risk Level 

Equipping oneself completely with the safety gears and concentrating completely on the task is a safety measure for operating both types of power tools. Nevertheless, the chop saw as explained is more harsh and powerful. Therefore, the risks involved with it are manifold.

Additionally, the work piece being cut is directly fed by hands in the blade. This close contact with the blade further increases the chances of an accident to occur.

Contrarily, the miter saw contains a fence to hold the material. The work piece is fixed on the fence and the fence is moved through the blade to cut. This reduces perils for the operator. Besides, the saw is less powerful which makes it a manageable device.


Chop Saw vs Miter Saw – Final Verdict

For veterans, deciding in between both won’t be a problem. But for newbies, differentiating the two tools and then deciding which one they should buy can be mind-boggling.

A chop saw is a heavy-duty tool which can prove to be resourceful and time-saving for experienced operators. The knee or foot feeding feature has further increased the efficiency of chop saws. But they are less versatile and highly dangerous for an inexperience operator.

However, for regular woodworking tasks, the miter saws are best. They are versatile and you can make several types of cuts from them. They rip more neatly and they are less dangerous than chop saws. The only drawback is that miter saws cannot be used for cutting a large number of hard materials like metal.


Conclusion

Miter saws are unquestionably the best power tools that provide for a wide range of cuts with efficiency. But for carpentry or construction task, a miter saw may be an unfit choice. To cut heavy materials like tiles, PVC, concrete or metals, a chop saw is ideal yet the risk factor is also involved. Therefore, to decide which one is suitable for you depends upon your experience level and the nature of your job.

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